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Fanged Fish Secretes Venom with Morphine-Like Effect | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A health specialist works in a laboratory. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU

Cologne (Germany)-A fanged coral reef fish living in the Pacific Ocean uses a mix of venoms to disable its opponents for a short duration, which slows the movement of its enemy so it can escape from threats.

Scientists from the University of Queensland and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK found that the venom secreted by this fish, of the genus Meiacanthus, could offer hope for the development of new painkillers.

They said that this substance is secreted by two large grooved teeth on the lower jaw that are linked to venom glands.

Dr. Nicholas Casewell and his colleagues examined the strategy used by the fish to defend itself and the mix of venom it secretes. In the Current Biology magazine, they wrote about three important components they have discovered: a gas that paralyzes nerves, an enzyme that is usually found in some spiders’ poison, and the anesthetic opioid peptides.

University of Queensland researcher Associate Professor Bryan Fry said the researchers tried this venom on lab mice that showed no sign of pain once injected with the fish venom.

He added that most animals secrete painful venom to defend themselves. But, the secret behind this fish is found in the opioid peptides, which have morphine and heroin-like properties.

Fry asserted that the researchers succeeded in creating a new drug, extracted from the Meiacanthus grammistes fish, without causing headaches or nausea for patients after undergoing surgeries.

However, researchers will continue examining other types of fish from the same specie to find better alternatives.